Further to Dr John Doherty’s letter, the difficulty of distinguishing the ironic from the literal in writing has long been recognised.
In the 17th century, the natural philosopher John Wilkins, who married Oliver Cromwell’s sister, proposed that irony should be marked with an inverted exclamation mark (¡).
In the 1960s, the French author Hervé Bazin suggested the Greek letter psi (appropriately pronounced sigh) should be used.
To substitute intonation in speech, Bazin put forward other punctuation marks to signify love, acclamation, certainty, doubt and authority. Since none of these have come into use, perhaps emojis could be used?
The queue to get into Ireland at Dublin Airport on the eve of the same sex marriage referendum in May 2015
Brian Boyd makes some interesting observations on what is referred to as “Generation Snowflake”.
As he points out, it is the prerogative of every generation to look at the generation that succeeds it with an often unjustified sneer of pity and disdain. It was the meat that was dished out to us as teens by the generations that preceded us; and we took in so much of it that we want to impose the feast of our moral superiority on a generation whose only obligation, like the generations that preceded them, is to embrace knowledge and to take delight in their own youth and in the marvellous gift of life.
However, a major social experiment has occurred over the past 20 years that has elicited very little debate. The children coming into adulthood now are the first generation to be shaped by the internet.
Once upon a time our parents were charmed when we invented an imaginary friend; now children can have a thousand imaginary friends and we call it Facebook. Rather than interacting with the rough and tumble of real children, it is easier for children to sit in their rooms and morosely compare the amount of “likes” their picture receives in relation to others whom they can so easily perceive to be more attractive, affluent and intelligent than they.
A teenager won’t burn many calories staring at a screen, nor do they acquire much in the way of life skills. Depression and self-harm are a growing issue among the young. Rather than dealing with the individual when they have the courage to present themselves, or castigating a whole generation as “snowflakes”, we should perhaps ask ourselves how smart is it for adults to hand children smartphones and unrestricted access to the internet.
It is an issue that we need to take seriously, otherwise we may find that these “snowflakes” rapidly accumulate into a blizzard and change, not for the better, the fabric and culture of society.
A seagull on Suffolk Street, Dublin this week
It would appear that there is a seagull out there somewhere determined to buy my car, almost daily leaving a deposit on same.
Pic: Kirsten Williams
On display in Dublin City Council Civic Offices, Wood Quay
Vinny O Reilly writes:
They’re really our friends…
I find it curious that acknowledging the increased numbers and aggressive nature of urban gulls provokes such smug hilarity if not outright contempt. The increased number of urban gull colonies in Ireland and the UK is readily acknowledged by ornithologists.
It seems at least plausible to me that bad waste management practices and conscious human interactions (deliberate provision of food) have led to a change in size and behaviour of the seagull population, not to mention their feathered counterpart, the urban pigeon.
Anyone who has tried to eat lunch in Heuston Station will be familiar with the pesky pigeons emboldened by easy meals from foolish people who think it’s cute to feed these flying pests. Meanwhile, outside on the Liffey the magnificent cormorants and herons are outnumbered by those awful scavenging gulls.
Previously: Mean Gulls
I see that the ESRI has found that most minimum wage earners are not the sole earners in their households.
This would suggest that people working on the minimum wage [headline minimum wage, €9.15 per hour] can only do so as a viable option because someone else’s job supplements their income and helps to pay for rent, food and other necessary living expenses.
The minimum wage can therefore not be considered a living wage.
Yesterday: Union Pandering Surrender Monkeys
National Museum of Ireland
I write to congratulate Rosita Boland on her excellent article on the necessity or other wise of the Irish language. She decries the waste involved in the State funding and supporting something so unnecessary, and I agree with her.
Surely though, we should not stop at our national language in an effort to eradicate this shameful waste.
I propose the following, not exhaustive, list of unnecessary institutions supported by the State that should be scrapped: the National Museum of Ireland, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the National Concert Hall and Culture Ireland. I look forward to living in Rosita Boland’s particular vision of utopia.
Barra Mac Niocaill,
Fine Gael TD and junior minister Damien English launching the party’s Investing in the Early Years Plan in the CHQ Building, Dublin before the election in February
I was somewhat surprised to learn that Fintan O’Toole takes his policy views from US talk radio (I would have thought he was more a Guardian reader myself) but that probably explains why his view on foreign direct investment and Ireland’s industrial policy is so out of touch with reality.
The taxation of multinationals is based on the source principle. Countries tax the profits from operations located in their countries. Although some of the world’s largest companies have operations in Ireland, we can only tax them on the profit they generate from their activities in Ireland. This we do.
The issue being debated in the US at the moment, however, relates to a loophole in the US tax code which allows “deferral” of corporate income taxes, and allows US multinationals to delay certain tax payments until the profits are transferred to US-incorporated entities in their corporate structure.
Some companies (not surprisingly) are trying to defer payment for ever. We aren’t the problem. The US tax code is.
Indeed, the US treasury secretary has written to the European Commission stating that while the US does not collect the tax until repatriation, the US system of deferral “does not give EU member states the legal right to tax this income”.
Ireland’s 12½ per cent corporation tax rate is a key part of our offering to multinationals but it is not the only reason they come here.
We offer access to EU markets, a well-educated and a highly skilled workforce. Winning the war for talent is critical to our future success.
That is why my work as Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation was focused on making sure we continued to foster and develop Ireland’s talent pool through a new innovation strategy and a new skills strategy.
I look forward to hearing Fintan explain the real facts of the matter to Rush Limbaugh or the good folks who listen to the News from Lake Wobegon.
Damien English TD
Minister of State for Skills,
Research and Innovation,
Leinster House, Dublin 2.
‘Communication consultant’ James Morrissey
[Media analyst] Colum Kenny’s article “Paddy not getting full story due to media constraints” is most interesting. Is this Prof Colum Kenny of the Department of Communications at DCU quoting his colleague “Dr Roddy Flynn of DCU” in relation to media issues?
For clarity, I am a communications consultant to clients, including Denis O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien does not control Independent News & Media, nor is he a director.
Neither is he chairman of Communicorp, as incorrectly stated by Colum Kenny.
During my years in journalism, and since, I do not recall Colum ever getting exercised about media ownership when he was a very regular columnist at the Sunday Independent and at a time when INM’s share of the media market was considerably greater than it is today.
A pity Colum didn’t give Paddy the full story.
Ireland’s political parties have been urged by the National Union of Journalists to tackle the thorny issue of media ownership and control in the country.
The NUJ renewed a call for the establishment of a commission on the future of the media, arguing that cross-party co-operation should form part of the current negotiations on the formation of a new government….
Roy Greenslade,The Guardian
Previously: Red Everywhere
Dave and Fred from our Marriage Referendum pets series last year
With regard to Lara Marlowe and Karlin Lillington’s “The real debate: canines or felines?” (February 6th), it is a popular misconception that cats are more intelligent than dogs; in fact the reverse is true. The concept of intelligence is all but impossible to define, but most would consider the capacity for relationship to be an indicator of some kind of mental competency.
Dogs, which were first domesticated around 15,000 years, are pack animals and evolved to live as part of often complex social hierarchies. Cats, first domesticated around 12,000 years ago with the onset of the agricultural revolution, evolved as solitary creatures. The latter came to live in proximity to humans thanks to their interest in the rats that congregated around early-agricultural grain stores. As such, they never actually wanted to be close to humans per se.
The “panting, tail-wagging excitement” Lara Marlowe cites is actually indicative of dogs’ more complex psychology, while the “mystery” and “intelligence” of cats derives from the fact their mental capacities are relatively limited. It is not that cats are aloof; they are simply incapable of love, and what is often mistaken for sophistication is in in reality a zombie-like vacuity. Cats are rather like furry goldfish.
Enda Kenny finally emerges to review the storm crisis that has been ongoing for over a month. When he does so, he and his friends share a joke as one unfurls an umbrella printed with the words “I love rain” (January 1st). There are many who do not love the rain, many for whom the floods of the last number of weeks have caused personal devastation and economic misery.
Said Enda by the floods in Athlone
As the people there cried out ‘ochón’
Mayor Tom with your brolly
In this season of jolly,
To the haterz just say… ‘póg mo thón’
Mícheal Ó Diarmada